The people we are vs the people we will be

Well why not?

This is a subject I’ve avoided for a while, out of fear of not finding the things I wanted under the surface or out of sheer indifference to the subject, for sometimes it is better to live life rather than reflect on it. If forwards is where we are walking then why look back?

Well… it’s been a difficult week over on the island, the group of friends I was in in school, we are still technically a group of friends but are scattered around the UK and don’t ever really see each other all together, the only times I have seen all of them in one place for the past 7 years has been at funerals, at my mothers, and this week, two of them lost a parent. It is good to see good friends, but never good under those circumstances, and they have both looked to me now to help them through this time…

How do you help a friend weather the storm which they’ll rain down on themselves?… who knows…

To answer a different question, we look back to calculate trajectory, if the person I am is a result of the places I’ve been then the person I will be is a result of the sum of both of those things.

I realised some things when looking back… and that is that I’m not entirely satisfied with the person I’m going to be, so I thought fuck it, let’s change it, and it’s easier than you think.

Put an obstacle in your way and it’ll throw you off course, I was in a direction that was good and upwards for my career, finally directing, finally full time, finally paid for it! no more lifting steel deck for me (woohoo!). That is all good, and what I wanted but the person I would become by chasing it so hotly is simply not the kind of person I would want to have a conversation with let alone inflict on anyone else.

So I booked myself a flight, to a faraway place, several days after my last show (and looking like it’s my best show yet) of this incredible year closes. This gives me no time to squeeze in any extra work, no opportunity to do anything but spend my days now directing and packing, getting all the right injections (and some of the wrong ones apparently), try out the right shoes, the right bags, the right compasses etc, but most importantly it gives me the ability to say no.

To say no when I was offered to direct a musical, to say no when asked to go and assist at the RSC, to say no when asked to develop a new play. The ability to say no is important,  and I needed to put an obstacle in my own way, else I wouldn’t have had the strength to be the obstacle myself.

Like a river all of a sudden blocked on a bend, and bursting it’s banks and spilling over plans, flooding, and draining away I have created purposeful chaos in my own life, and very much intend to embrace every unexpected turn that it takes me.

 

EmbracIng the Chaos

Just a funny thought.

So I found myself in this hall of old, with standards and flags lining the walls, surrounded by soldiers, guards, marines and warriors of the finest standard. But if war was ever to find our shore, it’s the people at my table I’d take with me.

United we Stand

they go round and round…

Waking up. Taking a shower. Shaving. (sometimes) Turning on the radio. Getting the newspaper. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed. Kissing S goodbye. Out the door. Walking to work, picking up a coffee on the way. Turning on my computer. Checking e-mails. Reading news. Phones. Meetings. Having lunch. (and some more coffee). More phones. More meetings. (not always) Even more e-mails. Reading news. Turning off my computer. Getting a full tram home. Shopping groceries. Making and having dinner. Kissing S hello. Watching TV. Reading news. Brushing my teeth. Turning of the lights. Good night. Falling asleep.

Waking up. Taking a shower. Shaving. (sometimes) Turning on the radio. Getting the newspaper. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed. Kissing S goodbye. Out the door. Walking to work, picking up a coffee on the way. Turning on my computer. Checking e-mails. Reading news. Phones. Meetings. Having lunch. (and some more coffee). More phones. More meetings. (not always) Even more e-mails. Reading news. Drawing sketches for a client. Turning off my computer. Getting a full tram home. Shopping groceries. Making and having dinner. Kissing S hello. Watching TV. Reading news. Brushing my teeth. Turning of the lights. Good night. Falling asleep.

Waking up. Taking a shower. Shaving. (sometimes) Turning on the radio. Getting the newspaper. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed. Kissing S goodbye. Out the door. Walking to work, picking up a coffee on the way. Turning on my computer. Checking e-mails. Reading news. Phones. Meetings. Having lunch. (and some more coffee). More phones. More meetings. (not always) Even more e-mails. Reading news. Drawing sketches for a client. Making design suggestions for a job. Turning off my computer. Getting a full tram home. Shopping groceries. Making and having dinner. Kissing S hello. Watching TV. Reading news. Brushing my teeth. Turning of the lights. Good night. Falling asleep.

Waking up. Taking a shower. Shaving. (sometimes) Turning on the radio. Getting the newspaper. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed. Kissing S goodbye. Out the door. Walking to work, picking up a coffee on the way. Turning on my computer. Checking e-mails. Reading news. Phones. Meetings. Having lunch. (and some more coffee). More phones. More meetings. (not always) Even more e-mails. Reading news. Drawing sketches for a client. Making design suggestions for a job. Taking a photograph. Turning off my computer. Getting a full tram home. Shopping groceries. Making and having dinner. Kissing S hello. Watching TV. Reading news. Brushing my teeth. Turning of the lights. Good night. Falling asleep.

Waking up. Taking a shower. Shaving. (sometimes) Turning on the radio. Getting the newspaper. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed. Kissing S goodbye. Out the door. Walking to work, picking up a coffee on the way. Turning on my computer. Checking e-mails. Reading news. Phones. Meetings. Having lunch. (and some more coffee). More phones. More meetings. (not always) Even more e-mails. Reading news. Drawing sketches for a client. Making design suggestions for a job. Taking a photograph. Evoking someones emotions. Turning off my computer. Getting a full tram home. Shopping groceries. Making and having dinner. Kissing S hello. Watching TV. Reading news. Brushing my teeth. Turning of the lights. Good night. Falling asleep.

Waking up. Taking a shower. Shaving. (sometimes) Turning on the radio. Getting the newspaper. Eating breakfast. Getting dressed. Kissing S goodbye. Out the door. Walking to work, picking up a coffee on the way. Turning on my computer. Checking e-mails. Reading news. Phones. Meetings. Having lunch. (and some more coffee). More phones. More meetings. (not always) Even more e-mails. Reading news. Drawing sketches for a client. Making design suggestions for a job. Taking a photograph. Evoking someones emotions. Making art. Turning off my computer. Getting a full tram home. Shopping groceries. Making and having dinner. Kissing S hello. Watching TV. Reading news. Brushing my teeth. Turning of the lights. Good night. Falling asleep.

through and througH, a Poet

Men

Eyal’s post has once again left me deeply impressed. This final speech of Charlie Chaplin in “The great dictator” has always been something extraordinary in filmmaking ever. When I first watched the film, I could not believe it had its premiere in 1940, right in the middle of the biggest and most devastating crisis of mankind ever. The wisdom that is in this speech is impressive. It is ever so sad that it didn’t help to end what happened during the years to follow.

As Eyal said it, we as people can reach great things if we stand together as one. We can make progress beyond the imaginable. We can free the world and we can make the world a better place for everyone. How much talent and cleverness, how much humanity and peace is buried and killed every day in slavery and inhuman working conditions somewhere in the world? How many people suffer for our wealth? It is Christmas time and the marketing campaigns do a great job of showing us how horribly wrong the balance on earth between all people really is. We get asked for money and this is the time when most people are more willing to give something for charity.

But the day after Christmas, the old treadmill is starting again. We cannot completely escape our own barriers and borders in life. Our life gives us our problems to solve. But besides us, we have elected other people to fulfill our will. And it must be our will to help everyone on earth to reach a life in peace. Without hunger, thirst, disease, fear and war. We are all men, no matter what colour of skin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

I have created a new category for this post: “us”. Because only together, we will be able to change something. Europe, United States… whatever. These are man-made borders. But mankind should not know any borders.

Ave.

I wish God could see the world the way I do.

I wish he could come down here, spend a day with me, walk around town and look at all the people that populate this place. How incredible wonderful this microcosmos of beeings really is. We would walk to the national theatre, stop by the swedish girls and get a coffee or a tea, then marvel and the flowers around the statue of Wenche Foss before we would spend a moment philospising about the works of Henrik Ibsen, as you are shure to do when you pass the massive statue of him and see his words inscribed in the street all the way down to the parliament. We would visit the newsstand on Karl Johan, and talk to the guy that always is there, always happy to help passers by with whatever they need or want. From there we would make our way down to the opera house, and on the way we would by a copy of =Oslo from the recovering drug addict that is selling it. God would surely tell him something profound and touch his shoulder, and then he would learn his name is Håkon, and that Håkon is a really compassionate person, who’s made a few wrong choices in this life, but is hoping to correct some of them before he caves under for good. Then a street performer, a musician, would get our attention with his beautiful rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s sound of silence. We would stand and listen to him, and his little daughter would come out of nowhere and join in on the chorus. God would ask me if I know of this man, and I would say that, yes, I do know of him. He left his wife 9 years ago to travel the world, he wanted to be free and see all the things life has to offer. He left his wife and little girl because he wanted to be free, and almost lost all that he cared about in the process. Now he lives alone in Oslo, he earns his income by singing songs on the street, and he sees his daughter a couple times a week. He says he doesn’t know when his wife will forgive him, if she ever will, but at least he gets to be there now.

We would part with a hug from the old man, and we would walk on. Nodding gracefully to vendors, young boys and their girls, elderly ladies on their weekly shopping trip and to travelling monks of other religions who have come to tiger city this day. We would get caught up in a group of german cruise tourists on a guided tour, and we would shake hands with Henke and Ariel, a finnish couple here on a weekend getaway. They are newly married and are expecting their first child in a couple of months. They are as happy as ever, high on life and love itself. Living carefree in a castle built around themselves out of young and unbreakable love. God would put his hand on Ariel’s stomach, and with a faint whisper, he would speak a blessing so profound and beautiful that it can only be heard by newborn ears.

As we reach the waters edge, and the maarble majesty of the opera house, God would remind me yet again why I do what I do, and that a building such as this, surely demonstrates the greatness of mankind in a very subtle and poetic way. As we walk along the waters edge, a fisherman that never cathces fish yells at us, a good wish for wind in our sails and fish in our nets. A young couple walks by, she, clearly intoxicated, has taken of her shoes – he, well dressed in a suite that doesn’t look right for him is holding her stady as the pass down the ways into town again. We – would carry on, sneaking into Akershus fortress the backway everyone knows about, watching the lone royal guardsman on his patrol – the most symbolic of military positions this country have, a guard that is guarding nothing but history. As he puts his rifle on his shoulder and turns around to walk, I would lead God to the top of the old wall, and as the sun sets over Oslo tonight, I would say to God; look at your creation. Take a look at it, not from above where you belong nor from below where lucifer reigns, but look at this world the way we do. From eye to eye. From head to head. From person to person. Look at us the way we look at ourselves, and see, that really, all we ever do, is try the best we can.

Come down lord, and look at us the way we look at us. Come down tonight and share the world with us.

Here i am, just a simPle human being

Yes… but

You see, actually I wanted to write about something completely different today. Something that I have been thinking about lately – especially since the time we all were together in Norway for Hans and Signhild’s wedding. But I shall write about it next time. It simply isn’t the right answer for what Eyal wrote.

The past days of riots in London and also Liverpool started quite a few discussions amongst colleagues and friends about why this is happening in England. People that know me will know, that I might not always paint the brightest picture of the country. That is simply what happens when you live somewhere foreign for a longer period of time than just for holidays: You make your own picture of the place. You gain an insight into how the system works. And that ultimately leads to a decision about whether you like the place or not. So my opinion is that there is a lot of positive things, especially when it comes to people, in England. But the system in general failed long ago and it seems that nobody ever realized the days of the Empire are over.

But now: the generation of people that get left behind. This is our generation ladies and gentlemen. And everyone following up on us! When did that happen? And why?

It was very late a few years ago even, when I did my apprenticeship in Munich. I came home after one of those usual jobs. Very late, very tired but couldn’t sleep right away (as always after work late at night). I switched on the TV and there was a documentary on about unemployed young people. All the kids there quit school. No degree, not even finished school. My parents – as Eyal mentioned – would not have allowed for that to happen. (We think – coming back to that point). So there is this guy who get’s a chance to get work at a local place that does removals and furniture transportation. Obviously this is physically heavy work and you don’t have to be very bright to do it. Therefore the pay is not great – but it is payed work. This guy gets offered to work there and if he doesn’t do too bad, may become a full time position. But for now, he only has to come with them for half a day, 6 hours in total.
When he comes back, he says this work would be absolutely stupid, everyone could do it, it would be too hard and would not pay enough. And that he would not go there again. Asked what he would expect from a job, he says that is has to pay well. He wishes to have a house, garden, car, pool and so on. He would need about 3000 Euros a month to even feel he has a quality life.
So I sat there, after 16 hours of work, that payed me around 500 Euros a month and thought – what the fuck?
(I had to check again, but that really was the salary… 😉 )

Another story: In the gymnastics class I used to coach, there was a really talented you boy. When he came to our club, it became quite clear after no time, that we were not the right place for him. He was too talented not to make something out of that talent. We wanted to send him to the Olympics team that trains in Augsburg. And they wanted to work with him – but he didn’t want to. He wanted to stay. So he did. He was about 9 years or so (cannot remember) and his parents used to bring him to training as they lived several towns away. They cared for him, where always there, went with us to competitions and events and so further. I watched him grow up and he was a nice guy and remained the best one of the group.
During my time in Liverpool I was home for the summer and on a train from Augsburg back home. A guy that somehow looks familiar comes in the train and passes me. He was a punk, with all the usual accessories, like the spiky collar, run down clothes, coloured hair – the whole enchilada. Somewhere in my head, this little man was saying: You know this guy. But I could not work out where from.
A few days later I meet a friend from my time at the gymnastics club. She is a social worker now and told me the story that this guy I once knew has basically abandoned his family. No contact what so every. Lives on the street and became a punk. So what happened with this guy? He was the one on the train. At some point in our lives, our paths crossed and there was a chance to possibly change his life. To divert it into a different direction. His parents did everything they thought was good for him. They cared and they were strict. And now?

You see, the thing with the blaming is really difficult. I agree with Eyal, completely. The parents are to blame. But, it isn’t that easy. A lot of the kids of the lost generation have really young parents. Especially in England there is a trend to become a Mom at a very young age. To gain some perspective in life again. As everything else is useless. No job, no money, no perspective. Why not have a baby. Thinking does not always go much further as the next few weeks. And the fact that having a child means lifetime commitment is not the first thought that comes to mind.
So now, kids having kids is a problem. Kids with no perspective in life, no money, no job, no education having kids themselves… who do you blame now? When does the chain start? Where in the line is the one person that we could blame? The one that had a proper job, was clever, raised a family and made it through? There must be someone to blame..?

I know this is a very provocative line of argumentation. But it is what I spotted a while ago. And since then, I keep wondering all the time how to solve that riddle.

To be fair, you know how my thinking is. I might be too idealistic and have a very pragmatic view on things. But I do honestly ask the question: How do we want to go on as a society? We cut down jobs in constant strive for more money, the better paid job. We cut down the money for anything that is not related to economy and its constant growth. Did anybody ever think about, that constant growth is something unnatural? And that within our physical restrains infinite growth will never happen – no matter what we are looking at. But we built our society on the basis of constant economic growth… That is odd.
So, what do we do with all the kids that have no perspective in their lives? Do we go to them and tell them: Learn something, you will find a job and be happy? Well, there won’t be any job. We all know how hard it can be to find A job. But everyone strives for THE job, the one that makes you happy, pays well and has short working hours…

I honestly am furious about rioters like the one we have seen in England lately. There is no excuse for this.
But there is the unsolved question of whom to blame. I don’t know. But I feel it is time that people – young people in particular start to become more present in the minds of the people that do leave them behind. We have the right to speak freely what we think. We can demonstrate for the good cause. So, why not organise some useful things with a Blackberry and march for a good thing. To really change something…?

It is only us, human beings, that are able to change the way our world goes. At the moment, we are heading for the ice-berg, straight ahead and with full speed.

Maybe we should go and slow down a bit.